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Rasa Island Wildlife Sanctuary (RIWS)

Certainly, the most convenient way to see the Philippine cockatoo in the wild is to visit Rasa Island!

Rasa is a small coral island of 8.34 km2 area situated in the Sulu Sea, just off the shore of the Municipality of Narra, Palawan, Philippines. About 1.75 km2 are covered with coastal forest, mangrove (5.60 km2), cultivated areas (predominantly coconut; 0.39 km2), 0.60 km2 are barren or sparsely vegetated sand and coral outcrops

The island is the pilot site of the program since 1998. Key component of this project site is the wardening scheme which involves patrolling and protection of the birds during and outside the breeding season. This scheme has proven to be very efficient. It has increased the population of cockatoos nearly tenfold on the island over ten years (presently ca. 200 birds)!

Rasa Island probably holds the highest population density of Philippine cockatoo that remains in the wild!

The world population of Philippine cockatoo was estimated to range between 1,000 to 4,000 individuals (Lambert, 1994). More recent estimates put the number of cockatoos remaining in the wild between 870 and 2,300 (Widmann, 2001). About 70 to 75% of this population is probably found in Palawan (Boussekey, 2000). This makes Rasa a high priority area for the protection of this species.

More so, not only Philippine cockatoos live on the island, but a variety of other species, with an unusual high percentage of globally threatened and near-threatened taxa (IUCN 2008), considering the small size of Rasa. Noteworthy among the 104 recorded bird species are Grey imperial pigeon Ducula pickeringii and Mantanani scops owl Otus mantananensis. Marine life around Rasa is also diverse with at least three marine turtle species and Dugong Dugong dugon recorded.

Pride of Rasa Island!

Rasa Island was declared Wildlife Sanctuary through Philippine Presidential Proclamation 1000 in 2006. Because of its features, the Municipality of Narra is now called the “Philippine Cockatoo Capital of the World”. Recently, it was named as one of the 13 top birdwatching sites in the Philippines by the Philippine Department of Tourism (PDOT) and was promoted during the 2009 World Travel Market in London. It is included in the PDOT’s published guidebook “Birdwatching in the Philippines Volume 1”.


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Page last updated: 30-Jul-20